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August 15, 2008

Iran News Summary: August 14, 2008

The following daily news summary is provided courtesty of our coaltion partners at the Open Society Institute . . .

Israel source denies U.S. curbing arms sales to deter Iran strike, Haaretz, August 14, 2008

An Israeli official on Wednesday denied an Haaretz report that the U.S. had rejected an Israeli request for military equipment and support that would improve Israel’s ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the Israeli-U.S. arms sales negotiations were being held without consideration of Iran and thus had no bearing on the U.S.’ decision to withhold arms sales. However, officials did say that talks between the United States and Israel on Iran were ongoing. “There is a full dialogue with the American administration on how to deal with the Iranian issue, first and foremost through diplomatic and political means, while no option should be taken off the table,” an official said. LINK

Op-ed Patrick Clawson- Sticks, carrots and nukes, The Guardian, August 14, 2008

Britain, France and Germany stepped forward in 2003 to take charge of the Iranian nuclear file. In 2005 Europe, with Britain in the lead, persuaded the Bush administration to set aside its deep concerns and to let the Europeans lead. Between 2006 and 2008, Europe orchestrated a series of security council resolutions about Iran. Under Javier Solana’s leadership, Europe has put together a consortium of six great powers – Russia, China and the US, along with Britain, France and Germany – to negotiate with Iran. What an opportunity for Europe to show that it can take on the global leadership role it so craves. Instead, European leaders have had to swallow the bitter pill of admitting that they are making little, if any, progress. LINK

Russian support for Iran sanctions at risk amid Georgia rift, Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 2008

Fierce American criticism of Russia’s military action in Georgia is almost certain to jeopardize a very different US strategic objective: stepping up pressure on Iran with another layer of United Nations sanctions. As builders of Iran’s $800 million nuclear power reactor, Russia has long resisted imposing sanctions to halt Iran’s program, which the US says is a cover to make an atomic bomb. Washington has convinced Moscow to support three previous sets of Security Council sanctions. But US efforts to launch a fourth set of sanctions – begun last week, as Iran all but ignored a US-European deadline on a nuclear deal – may get lost in the shrill US-Russian tussle in the Caucasus. LINK

Israel fears war could hurt Iran effort, Jerusalem Post, August 14, 2008

Russia’s war with Georgia and the infuriated reaction in the West to what US President George W. Bush calls Moscow’s “disproportionate response” could make it harder to enlist Russian help on the Iranian issue, according to Israeli diplomatic officials and academics. According to one diplomatic official, Russia’s policy toward Iran is linked to a basket of other issues. “Russia’s position right now is that they are trying to reaffirm their status in their world,” the official said. “They have an interest in showing that they are tough in South Ossetia, and that they are also not going to be pushed around by the West when it comes to Iran.” LINK

Iran president holds Turkey talks, BBC, August 14, 2008

The visit had already provoked controversy in the press over the usual protocol of foreign leaders visiting the mausoleum of the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, says the BBC’s Pam O’Toole. Turkish media have speculated Mr Ahmadinejad is holding talks in Istanbul rather than Ankara to sidestep paying respects to Ataturk, a champion of secularism. Turkish officials say the talks are expected to focus on bilateral ties, regional and international issues. LINK

Iran’s oil industry turns east for finance, Reuters, August 14, 2008

Asia can provide the finance Iran needs to develop its oil and gas reserves, the world’s second largest, limiting the impact of U.S. sanctions and pressure, a top Iranian oil official said on Thursday. “The financial world is not just in the western hemisphere,” Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, vice president for investment affairs at Iran’s state oil company NIOC, told Reuters in an interview. “Iran’s call on international financing for oil and gas can easily be moved to the east from the west.” State-run Asian companies keen to secure future energy supplies have resisted pressure from the United States to stay away from the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter Iran. LINK

Iran kills 3 Kurdish separatists in clash, AP, August 14, 2008

Iranian state radio says three Kurdish separatists and one Iranian soldier were killed in a shootout in the northwest of the country. The report says the shootout happened Wednesday night in a mountainous region near the Iraqi border. Two other separatists were injured. Thursday’s report said the separatists were affiliated with Iran’s Kurdistan Democratic Party. Iran has also been fighting another Iraqi-based Kurdish separatist group, known as the PEJAK. It is the Iranian wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey. LINK

Israelis as Friends? Iran Legislators Say No, New York Times, August 13, 2008

In a statement signed by some 200 members of the 290-seat assembly, Iranian lawmakers called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to dismiss Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, the vice president for tourism, after he repeated on Sunday his earlier comment that “we are a friend of all people in the world, even Israelis and Americans.” In his comments, Mr. Mashai, a political ally of Mr. Ahmadinejad and one of his in-laws, specified “for a thousandth time” that his country was against Israel, not Jews. But Parliament was not placated. “We do not recognize a country called Israel and so we cannot recognize a nation called Israel,” the lawmakers said in their statement, according to Fars, the semiofficial Iranian news agency. LINK

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